DoD

It’s that time of year again: the House and Senate have each passed their respective version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2024 (“NDAA”) (H.R. 2670, S. 2226).  The NDAA is a “must pass” set of policy programs and discretionary authorizations to fund Department of Defense (“DoD”) operations.  Lawmakers are currently undertaking the arduous process of reconciling these bills, while jockeying to include topics of importance in the final legislation.  The engrossed bills contain a number of significant provisions for defense contractors, technology providers, life science companies and commercial-item contractors – many of which we discuss briefly below and others that we will analyze in more depth in our NDAA series in the coming weeks.  Subscribe to our blog here so that you do not miss these updates.Continue Reading Key Topics to Watch as Congress Works to Fund Next Year’s DoD Budget

In Honeywell International, Inc., the ASBCA declined to dismiss a roughly $151 million claim by DCMA alleging a violation of CAS 410, holding that the government’s allegations were sufficient to state a claim for improper treatment of G&A expenses.  The Board’s decision provides guidance on how to interpret CAS 410 — a topic that is often addressed by auditors, but has rarely been the subject of written opinions by the courts or boards of contract appeals.Continue Reading ASBCA: Government Can Pursue $151 Million Claim Under CAS 410

This is the twenty-sixth in a series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the subsequent blogs described the actions taken by various government agencies to

The Coalition for Government Procurement and the National Defense Industrial Association filed an amicus brief in the consolidated Supreme Court cases United States ex rel. Schutte v. SuperValu, Inc. and United States ex rel. Proctor v. Safeway, Inc. The brief urges the Court to hold, consistent with the decisions of multiple federal courts of appeals, that a defendant cannot be liable under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) for “knowingly” submitting a “false” claim if (1) it acted in accordance with an objectively reasonable reading of an ambiguous statute, regulation, or contract provision and (2) there was no authoritative guidance warning it away from that interpretation.  The Amici are represented by Covington & Burling LLP. 

In SuperValu and Safeway, the Court is asked to resolve questions over the role that subjective intent plays in evaluating whether a defendant satisfies the FCA’s “knowledge” requirement.  Petitioners argue that a contractor can be liable under the FCA for submitting a claim that is premised on an objectively reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous legal provision if the contractor recognized that the provision could be interpreted a different way.  However, as the amicus brief explains, such a claim cannot be false for alleged noncompliance with the ambiguous legal provision that has not otherwise been clarified by authoritative guidance.  Nor can such a contractor knowingly submit a false claim just because it was aware that the legal obligation may be interpreted differently.Continue Reading Amici Curiae Submit Brief Urging Supreme Court to Adopt “Objectively Reasonable” FCA Knowledge Standard

Contractors often assume that government auditors have special authority to interpret the Cost Accounting Standards.  That assumption is easy to understand — auditors frequently take the position that there is just one “right” way for a company to do its contract cost accounting, based on how other companies do things.  But contractors should know that CAS is flexible and generally gives them options about how to comply, based on the circumstances of their business.  In short, a contractor’s business judgment matters, and contractors can use it to push back on auditors who take an overly rigid view of CAS.Continue Reading So the Auditor Says You Violated CAS?  Remember, Your Business Judgment Matters When Determining Compliance

The Department of Defense is seeking early input on implementation of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (the “FY2023 NDAA”) in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation.  Although this early engagement process will not replace the formal rulemaking process, it presents a significant opportunity for government contractors, technology providers, industry associations, and other interested parties to provide their perspectives on acquisition-related provisions of this year’s NDAA.  Providing early input can ensure that industry’s perspective is heard.  Indeed, providing input at this stage may impact the future rulemaking process by guiding areas of focus and influencing ways the rule makers ask for input during the rulemaking process.
Continue Reading DoD Seeks Early Input Regarding FY2023 NDAA Implementation in Acquisition Regulations

This is the fifteenth in a series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the subsequent blogs described the actions taken by various Government agencies to implement the Cyber EO from June 2021 through June 2022.  This blog describes key actions taken to implement the Cyber EO during July 2022.Continue Reading July 2022 Developments under President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

On August 25, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) published — with immediate effect — two new Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) clauses requiring defense prime contractors and subcontractors disclose any work in China on certain DOD contracts.  Under the interim rule, the DOD is prohibited from awarding or extending certain new contracts if a contractor fails to disclose its use of workers in China in performance of a covered DOD contract.  Although there is no prohibition on DOD awarding a covered contract to an entity that makes a disclosure, the Department can rely on a variety of authorities to exclude certain contractors and products that represent supply chain risks, especially if the products or services involve information technology.Continue Reading New DFARS Clauses Require Defense Contractors to Disclose Work Performed in China

The Eastern District of New York has enjoined a New York contractor’s federal debarment, in a rebuke of agency debarment actions that fail to honor contractors’ procedural rights.  On July 8, 2022, part supplier Precision Metals Corporation (“Precision”) was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) vacating and setting aside a Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) debarment and enjoining debarment while court proceedings are pending.  The decision, which emphasizes two procedural violations, serves as a reminder that an agency’s authority to debar contractors is not unlimited, and that it must strictly adhere to the rights granted contractors before taking action.  Each procedural violation, and its practical implications, is discussed below.Continue Reading Department of Defense Debarment Enjoined Due to Procedural Missteps

On the heels of the FTC’s opposition to Lockheed Martin’s acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed’s termination of the deal, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a report expressing concerns about the state of competition among its contractors.  Of particular note, the report encourages DoD action to (1) increase oversight of M&A transactions and (2) obtain greater IP rights in matters involving defense industrial base contractors.  Although the report is light on specifics and identifies objectives that are in some tension with each other, the report is a reminder to companies that the U.S. Government, the single largest purchaser in the country, remains focused on enhancing competition. To that end, we anticipate seeing Executive Branch action in the coming months that seeks to further that policy objective.
Continue Reading DoD Signals Increased Scrutiny of Gov Con M&A and Renewed Interest in Background IP Rights